27.07.2018 – Total lunar eclipse

My observation of the total lunar eclipse on 27th July 2018 started at the edge of a field to have the most possible free view around of me. After 3 years waiting time finally the next total lunar eclipse was on its way and I started to observe from 9.10 pm by looking towards southeast. Unfortunately the visuell start of the lunar eclipse was delayed because of very hazy sky in almost all directions nearby the horizon. While waiting for the moon to appear there was no boring feeling at all because there were some more interested people alongside the field and we used the time for some very informative and funny conversations. Also the sky in other directions was definitely interesting with the colours of the setting sun and also with the time Venus and Jupiter appeard with beautiful colours of dawn. There was enough to enjoy and to see there anyway.

Until the first time to spot the moon I needed to wait until 10.05 pm when the moon was already close to the maximum of the total lunar eclipse at a height of 5° above the horizon. Visuelly there was just visible a very faint brightening above the houses and the binoculars / camera helped to identified it as the moon in totality. For the naked eye it was not very enjoyable yet but at least the object of interest of today’s evening was now visible. The visibility conditions just slowly got better but I am really sure, with very clear sky the moon would have been visible already while rising. Punctually on time for the maximum of totality of this lunar eclipse (~ 10.21 pm) also by the naked eye the beautiful and copper red moon was clearly visible which was of course even more intensive red on the pictures – as always. Finally the moon arrived at the upper edge of the hazy sky. Because there were no other clouds nearby now the enjoyable evening with the total lunar eclipse could finally start. At almost exactly 10.31 pm finally also the planet Mars appeared under the moon and it looked just awesome, because the moon and the Mars almost had the same colour. That was really a unique impression and I never had seen that before with a total lunar eclipse and the copper red moon.

At about 10.33 pm, as always on time, the International Space Station made its flyby and for some other observers it was the first time to see the ISS. At the end of the flyby I got a nice idea to capture the ISS with the copper red moon and the wide-angle lens made it finally possible to capture both on the picture. Not only both, but all three including the Mars also. It looked really nice with the colours of dawn and it is at the end one of my favorite pictures of this lunar eclipse. While the ISS was flying above us not far away from the ISS we were also able to spot a Iridium Flare.

Until 10.43 pm I observed the moon from the edge of the field. Then I walked back home into the garden to make some pictures with my telescopes. First of all I tried to take pictures with the Maksutov 127/1500mm but soon I remembered that it won’t be that easy to make pictures. The reason was, that the moon wasn’t in totality bright enough to be visible on the display of the camera – accounted for by the focal distance of the telescope. After some testing and the help of planet Jupiter at 11.15 pm I was first time able to get the moon focused and also on one picture. Because with the focal distance of the telescope it was not easy to get the complete full moon on one picture. There was very less space to the edges. In sporadic intervals I captured some images of the increasing lunar phase but also concentrated more on just enjoying the event visually with the atmosphere around. Also there was some heat lightning visible produced by a thunderstorm over Belgium which surprised me really. But after checking the weather app, all was clear then.

Punctually at midnight I changed my location from the garden into my room to enjoy the moon and Mars between the trees of the garden. It looked really nice. While the partial phase of the eclipse ended, I also finished my observation of this really wonderful – and as always unique – total lunar eclipse.